Because I believe (though there are week's it's easier said than done) that menu planning helps keep a household running, and actually helps in the saving time department, I share some recipes to help you do the same. Saving time, means time open for other things - like paper crafting.
However, I kinda dropped the menu planning ball this week, what with hubby gone and the Girlie home. Luckily last week's menu had a bit of a shuffle, so between leftovers, a couple meals I could move to this week and an impromptu meal, we ate. I find if I get to Tuesday without a plan, I don't make it to the grocery store and the whole week becomes an exercise in winging-it with whatever is on hand.
But with my mad cooking the last couple of weeks I have plenty of tried recipes to share, so that you can save some time as well. And perhaps, you'll get some time with your Apron Strings kits, or some other crafty pursuit.
I've mentioned before how cookies pull double duty here, they are a dessert on In-Law dinner nights and then are put in lunches. I love Oatmeal cookies, so any variation will get a try out here. These Oatmeal Apricot Cookies were winners, they barely lasted three days. I'm not a huge fan of apricots, but I will cook with them from time to time. They provided a nice chew and sweetness, different from raisins. They'll make another appearance.
I'm trying to wean my family off of straight white rice, and opting for brown rice simply because it has better nutrition. This Seasoned Rice recipe calls for Jasmine rice, which I've never had so I didn't have on hand, but I liked the idea of flavoring rice. I still have a some white rice I'm trying to get rid of, so I opted to use that instead of picking up Jasmine rice. It was easy enough and flavorful, too. Rice freezes well, so any leftovers could be frozen to use as a base to another meal or to add to soup. I made up this batch to serve with the Honey Chicken above and planned to use the remainder on another dish.
Still testing out recipes. I think I've gained like five pounds just testing these mug cakes. This Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Cookie Cake just added another pound. It was warm, peanutty and chewy, thanks to the oatmeal. It was more dense than a typical mug cake, but I didn't find than an obstacle to enjoying it all by myself.
Holy cow this S'mores Mug Cake was amazing, and I'm not a huge fan of S'mores, as a rule, but this mug cake. Dang! It has a graham cracker bottom, which is all salty and buttery. Then there's a rich chocolate cake and you nudge some marshmallows into the top. Shut the front door! The recipe calls for toasting them after it bakes. Whatever. You can do that if you can wait, but it's a mug cake people. The marshmallows get all gooey just fine on their own. I did start with just a few minis on top because I wasn't sure how they'd do at altitude, especially in a microwave. But they sunk into the cake enough that they just melted and goo-ed all over the top. I will warn you though, this recipe needs a big mug; I used a cappuccino style mug. I can't imagine doing it in a regular sized mug.
This blogger has several mug cakes, so it was totally necessary to try them all. Up next was a Salted Caramel Mug Cake. I used the same cappuccino mug. The recipe calls for a teaspoon of La Dolce Leche in it. There's a salted caramel recipe link with this recipe, but I had some store bought stuff. I think the idea was that the caramel would sort of become like a lava cake, but in mine it sunk to the bottom and didn't really melt. I also didn't like the flavor of the store bought stuff. I did love the cake and thought that either trying the given salted caramel recipe, or simply making another caramel sauce (I've tried this ONE) and drizzling over the top after the cake was done would be plenty.
I found this Breakfast Bake on Facebook, but wanted to pin it for future reference, so I went in search of it on Pinterest. This is identical to the one I made for dinner. As we were eating it (before looking for the pin) we talked about adding breakfast sausage or crumbling bacon on top. The only thing I didn't think about was the addition of chives. We also decided this would be awesome for Christmas morning because it's super easy to whip up, but would work for any brunch. Or dinner.
I had pork roast left over and the above seasoned rice, so a I thought a quick Pork Fried Rice would make a good meal and clear my 'fridge. The recipe calls for pork sausage, which is where I substitute my pork roast leftovers. I didn't keep this recipe. I found it a touch dry and didn't have a lot of flavor. I don't mind under-sauced, I mean it's fried rice, so. . .but the seasoning just wasn't what I was hoping for.
The 16 y.o. had an impromptu study session with seven of his friends on Thursday. At dinner time. This is where a menu plan would have been helpful. Not having one this week, you'd think I might have been in a semi panic, cooking for seven teens, plus my own family, with little notice. Perhaps. But I'd watched an episode of Pioneer Woman the day before and she cooked up this Pasta with Tomato Cream Sauce. BINGO! I just needed to swing by the store to pick up the Fettuccine noodles. It was smooth, creamy, tomato-y and the kids came back for seconds. Score!
Cookie Dough Cheesecake Bars has Cookie Dough in the name, so you gotta try it. To me they were okay, but a couple menfolk in the family loved them. I didn't have regular chocolate chips, so I used minis; in hindsight I should have cut the amount in half. The "cookies" were really crumbly, I thought it was because of the mini chips, but I'm not sure. They didn't mold very well, though they tasted okay in the end. The graham cracker crust didn't get crispy and I'm not sure why - did the base not bake long enough, was it the parchment liner (I could have baked them with out that as I don't think they would have stuck in my stone baker), was it the cheesecake layer making it moist? I don't know.
Snickers Muddy Buddies are for snacking. The Teens On Thursday cleaned up what the Girlie left behind of this batch. What I managed to get a taste of, were good. Really good. I used the Quaker Oat Squares again. The only change is that I'd toss the peanuts in with the Squares and then coat with the chocolate (or toss the peanuts in shortly after coating the Squares), instead of adding the peanuts at the end. The peanuts sunk to the bottom of the container and I think if they were coated in chocolate they might not have done that.
I think baked granola bars, like these Chocolate Dipped Granola Bars will give me the kind of bar I want; something that holds together without needing to stay chilled. These bars have a good crunch and chew to them and the chocolate on the bottom was just enough. I cut them when they were still warm, but not hot. I used parchment paper in the pan (instead of greasing the pan) to get them out easier. I dipped most of them, scrapping the bottoms along the edge of the bowl, but you could probably just spread the chocolate on the bottom. I turned them upside down until the chocolate was set enough, then boxed them between layers of parchment, chilled them for a couple hours to be sure the chocolate was set but now they're in the pantry. If it was still screaming hot, I'd probably keep them in the 'fridge.
The Girlie will be home again this weekend. The annual Harvest Festival is taking place down in Olde Town this weekend. We're watching our niece overnight today. We've got In-Law dinner tonight. Sounds busy. Hubby brought home some apple whiskey, I may need a shot. Or two.